The best way to encourage learning with preschoolers is through play, and the best way to encourage play is to provide open-ended toy options that are durable and engaging!  In 14 years of parenting, I have never been a fan of battery powered toys that can only be used one way.  Not to mention how poorly made most toys are today!  I can’t even count the number of toys we have had to throw away because they broke.

When I was asked to review the new Duplo STEAM Park set from LEGO® Education, I said YES of course!  Although I was provided with this set, the opinions in the post are all mine.

Why STEAM?

The STEAM fields (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) are an important focus in education today, especially the type of learning that combines two or more of these disciplines at a time.  Jobs in these fields are growing at a much faster rate than other sectors, which means that our kids will need to be able to be proficient in these areas in order to compete in the job market of the future.

Plus, building and creating things just makes life more FUN!

Once we knew that our STEAM Park set was on its way, we eagerly waited for it to arrive in the mail… what would it be?

WOW.  That is a LOT of Duplo bricks!

Ok, so the STEAM Park set is an awesome choice for either parents or teachers.  With Christmas coming up, this is definitely something to put on the wish list!  The set comes with 295 pieces, and there are some really cool parts in there – working gears, wheels, winches, boats, ramps, people, animals, and more.  Kids can build contraptions with all sorts of moving parts, with a fun theme park feel.  The STEAM Park is designed to be used by 6 kids at a time in a preschool classroom, so there are plenty of bricks to go around.

Another huge benefit is that the set also includes 16 building ideas on 8 two-sided cards.

My 3 and 5 year olds have enjoyed building the ideas on the cards.  My 5 year old can easily follow the photo!  They end up adding their own creative twist to the project, but the projects have increased their “building level” and given them some new ideas to try that they wouldn’t have thought of on their own.

I love that LEGO® bricks just naturally encourage thinking skills as kids build and tinker.  Janie wondered if her Duplo kids could ride down the ramp in boats. (Surprisingly, they slid down the ramp just fine!)

Teacher Resources

Teachers (and parents too!) can download a Teacher Guide with detailed lesson plans to go with this set.  I browsed through the guide to check out the lessons, and they are fantastic.

Go to:  http://education.lego.com

Then go to Support (top right corner) –> then Preschool –> then Teacher Resources –> then STEAM Park Teacher Guide.

Where to Order

Here’s a link to the LEGO® Education STEAM Park on the LEGO® Education site: STEAM Park.  When I received the set, it was not yet on sale, and I wondered what the price would be.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was only $149.95, as I was expecting it to be $200.  That’s a lot of bricks for the price!

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